Thursday, July 28, 2005

Beginner Botanist

Lately in the mornings, Claire Helen, Betty and I garden in the hour or so before the sun worms its way through the trees and scorches any bit of earth it can find. It's pity gardening; our garden is extremely sad and neglected, and though an hour a day spent on a postage stamp sized lot probably sounds like a lot, please recall that a)I am pregnant and quite the wilting flower (haha) about it, and b) I did tell you I was out there with Betty and Claire Helen. A full half of the time is spent fishing a rock or stick out from somebody's mouth, or convincing someone not to dig up my prized poppy, please.

I think Claire Helen is going to be a good little gardener, when she gets a little older. She has so much fun collecting rocks and putting them in the flower garden by the tool shed, and moving leaves around in the dirt, and trying to get to the sprinkler head without getting wet. Also beheading flowers, but we are working on redirecting that toward weeds.

Her shy self is definitely asserting itself (can shyness do that?) a bit more lately. We go to a music class on Mondays, and apparently the teacher scares Claire Helen to bits. The room is down a long hallway, and she walks cheerfully with me most of the way, checking out bits of paper and molding, until we get to the room where the class is, and she sees the teacher, and all the kids and parents. Then her feet mysteriously glue themselves to the linoleum, and if I have made the mistake of not wearing pants, she grabs a fistful of leg so hard I am surprised it doesn't just come right off like a glob of silly putty. I tend to pick her up and bring her in the room, as experimentation in this situation has proven that she will actually remain stock still in that very spot for the entire class if I let her, and then I bring her to the circle, where fear appears to give way to a sort of stunned horror. She doesn't cry- she never cries- but she does stand in my lap, mouth agape, eyeing the tambourine extremely suspiciously. I tell myself that Claire Helen just has good taste in music, and as the class seems to involve what I consider an inordinate amount of country music (that is to say, any at all), she is dubious of what this exposure will do to her long term musical appreciation abilities, but more likely she is just an introvert. When we first walk into a playgroup, most one year olds will clap and grin and run around when they see everyone is looking at them(as they do, to say hello), but Claire Helen smiles coyly and peeks out from behind my leg. It's awfully awfully cute.

She also takes this shyness to her speaking, and generally refuses to speak in front of strangers or people who did not witness her birth, so being the goof that I am, I took her baby animals book to her one year check up to see if I could cajole her into talking in front of the doctor, to make sure that I hadn't Snufflalufagussed some baby speech, or just finally gone crazy from keeping up a one sided running commentary for an entire year(no, not really. But she doesn't finish words, and she had that bump, so I was worried was doing something weird to her speech development, so I wanted him to hear them, but it turns out it's normal and doesn't matter, and hopefully this will be the last you hear of me freaking out about her speech for a while.). Of course she completely broke character and chatted up a storm with the doctor, as well as immediately playing with him.

Also, during her one year vaccinations, she DID NOT CRY. One of them is even supposed to sting a bit, and the most we got was a frowny face. I react more than she does when being poked with a needle. She is so tough.

Here are a couple pictures of Miss Tough Stuff, after a hard morning of helping me in the garden. Down there a little further are some pictures from a beach trip this weekend, but that's probably pretty obvious.

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Can you see that her hair is wet, and she is dirty enough to reasonably be mistaken for an extra on the set of Oliver? Posted by Picasa

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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I believe I am being stared down by a duck, here. I am somewhat surprised it doesn't have a chain around its neck and skewed baseball cap. "You wanna piece o dis, lady? Gimme your graham crackers, and I won't bite the baby." Posted by Picasa

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Checking out the water with papa. Posted by Picasa

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"The picture we will be blowing up to poster size come prom night" Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2005

One Year

Hello, and thank you for reading about my child for an entire year! You must be quite devoted.

Claire Helen turned one last Wednesday, amid very little pomp and circumstance, which is just the way we wanted it. I am sure if we had asked her she would have preferred a clown and possibly some dancing elephants, but the great thing about having a child whose longest sentence is 3 words long and includes the word juice is that she cannot demand entertainment. Also I am not sure she has ever heard of a clown. Shhh. Don't tell her. Clowns are freaky. Instead she got a from-scratch hippie natural carrot cake which she liked just fine, but was no impediment to her begging for the tomatoes on our plate. As well as the smaller pieces of cake we had.

She got lots of presents and got to have a party with her friends(if you define friends as people who have mutual hair pulling arrangements) a few days later.

For posterity, this is Claire Helen at a year:

You may not remember this, but 10 months ago I described her as "quiet, sensitive kid, and a little shy." This is still true. I might add focussed and cautious, but her mellow demeanor was largely fixed at birth. We are quite pleased with ourselves for not screwing it up.

She has a long attention span and can be very determined(what toddler isn't though, right?)- a blessing when we are reading books together, a curse when she wants to get whatever sharp, glittery object you have in your hand into her mouth. We probably read for an hour or two a day, and have spent several full afternoons looking at animal books. She points, I name, then reverse. I tend to peter out before she does. She really likes animals, except for cows, menacing milk monsters that they are. She has really started to put things together in the last few weeks, too. If I hide something, she remembers where it is hours later. She can open doors (even the front one! Oh no!) and is getting good at categories. If we're playing with a train, she goes to get a train book, and the train puzzle piece. If I'm drinking from a coffee cup, she'll get her tea cup and pretend to drink with me. I find it endlessly enthralling to see what she puts in what category. She knows which animals are which in books, for example, but at the zoo she thinks most quadrupeds are dogs.

She's also very communicative, and if I had to assign her a "thing," I think it would be this. When we get to a new environment, and the other babies get down to crawl around and explore, she will sit for a while and watch the adults talk. She really wants to know how to do this- talk, I mean. I think she is motivated by nefarious mama-bossing purposes, but she is motivated nonetheless. She has probably 3 or 4 dozen words and a few sentences (all related, of course, to mama-bossing), and maybe 8 or 9 signs. She suspects if she could only find the magic sentence, the kitties would come rushing to her for tail grabbing, and all her meals would be cherries.

She is not a picky eater (hurrah!) though she does appear to have inheirited the dreaded Harrington snacking gene, meaning no matter how much food I put on her tray for a meal, I will have a little chirping beggar at my side 30 minutes later looking for some food. "cheese? peach? juiceplease?*" I spend a bit too much of my day dealing with finger foods.

Oh, sleeping. We don't do a whole lot of that. She appears to have also inheirited the dreaded Morris insomnia gene. She has a knack for waking up hysterically just as we parents are drifting off for the night. But we are, as always, working on it. Certainly we are doing better than this time last year. Haha.

She loves to be in the water more than anything else, even kitty tail grabbing. We got her a puzzle for her birthday, and she's pretty good at it, though I have doubts about it actually remaining together for very long, as she is insistent that the taxi (it's a transportation themed puzzle) belongs in her hippo-walker. She will travel the distance between her room and the living room to right the situation if the taxi dares show its face away from the hippo. She is still best buddies with Betty, although Betty is beginning to have her doubts about the friendship. She thinks her dad lives in the phone, and will ask "dada? iiiiii? dada?" into any phone like object she comes across.

She is definitely not an agressive toddler (at gymboree she tends to be the knock-ee rather than the knocker-downer), but she can be very possessive, and will crawl to a far corner to protect her loot if she feels threatened. Walking is going well, but, of course, cautiously. She does not like to fall, and will look at you to see if she should be mad whenever she does.

She is gleeful all of the time. We have had the best first year, and we are so pleased we get so many more with her. Her personality gets bigger and sweeter every day.

* one word. She doesn't know "please" yet, except as the tail end of "juice," which, no, she does not get. But don't think that stops her from asking 128392 times a day.

Excuse me? Big People? Cake please? Posted by Picasa

Her assistant dutifully blowing out her birthday candle Posted by Picasa

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Surveying the destruction Posted by Picasa